FOOTBALL is back in full swing now with this week’s Premier League and Champions League action giving way to the Carling Cup next week.
This year’s Carling Cup does seem as though it is being treated a little differently by the bigger clubs, as Manchester City, Manchester United, Arsenal, Chalsea and Liverpool are still competing for the silverware.
This is another competition, so it does bring a case for the bigger squads, with managers rotating players around to freshen things up.
The only problem with making wholesale changes is the fact that you might not get the result at the end of the game.
Players want to be involved in cup games, from the top to the very bottom.
The reason is that there is potentially some silverware waiting at the end of it.
Top players are all set up financially anyway, so cup competitions are all about the silverware. Players are judged by their peers on what they have won.
If you make these changes to your regular team and you pick up a win, then it is all well and good.
If you lose, some of the players won’t understand it, and the fans certainly don’t.
A problem can also be the fact that younger players can come into your side, if they are involved in a demoralising defeat then it will hit their confidence.
This doesn’t do the club any good at all.
The reason the big teams do this is because the financial lure of the Premier League and the Champions League is too much. That is the priority and everything else takes a backseat.
That has been demonstrated in the Carling Cup in recent years, with a good number of teams out of the top few fielding full-strength teams and going all the way.
The big clubs don’t do this all over the world though. I am a big follower of Spanish football, and the ethic at Barcelona is to make the big players play in every game.
Lionel Messi does turn out in every match, be it against the top of the league, bottom of the league or any other game.
In our day, there were squads of just 12 or 13, so the core of the squad made 35 or 40 appearances a season.
There wasn’t the knowledge then about resting players.
When I played if you were told that you were being rested then it was the manager saying that you had been dropped.
You wanted to play, and you had to train before and after because again the current know-how wasn’t there.
I can remember during my time as a player at Blackpool, being sent out on a run by Billy Ayre.
He told us to run pier to pier, which would have been fine if the conditions hadn’t been like they were.
When I did manage to look up after 25 minutes in the gale-force winds, the sand was blasting your face and the pier just didn’t seem to be getting any closer.
Those were the days.
I have been reading this week that goal-line cameras could be fixed up by the start of the new season.
I do think this is great for the game and great for TV, but there has to be consistency.
Lets hope it doesn’t affect the small sides who draw a Manchester United in the FA Cup and the game gets moved because their ground hasn’t got goal-line technology.
If it improves the game at the top level then that is fine, as long as it isn’t deterimental at the bottom end.
Who knows, the FA may pay for it at every ground in the country.
It will be a new rule, so it should come in everywhere.
If the back-pass law had only come in in the top two divisions then it would have been a bit of a farce.